851.01/3648: Telegram

The Acting American Representative to the French Committee of National Liberation at Algiers (Chapin) to the Secretary of State

1191. As forecast in my 1186, April 9, this afternoon’s newspaper prints ordinance relieving Giraud of his functions as CinC and appointing him as Inspector General. It is accompanied by official letter dated April 8 from de Gaulle to Giraud stating he had transmitted to him a copy of the decree that morning and had explained that FCNL had determined on this action in view of present organization of the Allied High Command and necessity that FCNL should during the phase now about to begin have on a governmental plane the power to make the principal decisions regarding disposition and employment of French forces. (This is not the personal letter referred to in a previous telegram).

In a conversation with General de Vinck tonight I learned that when General Chambre called on de Gaulle by request last night he was told it was necessary to find some ground of conciliation and understanding and it was intimated that de Gaulle was agreeable to Giraud continuing as CinC although there might be some modification in the service commands.

This morning Giraud replied in a courteous letter expressing appreciation of the words of de Gaulle as contained in his personal letter (second paragraph my 1184, April 9, noon) and those transmitted by Chambre. He stated his readiness to discuss the points at issue and his desire to sink all personal differences. When Chambre delivered Giraud’s reply early this morning he found de Gaulle completely changed. Delivery of letter was taken without comment and Chambre dismissed. As reported in my 1186, April 9 sometime afternoon Giraud was informed that ordinance and de Gaulle’s official letter were being published. The French Information Service then asked whether Giraud wished to make any reply thereto but stated that there would be no one on duty until 2:30; the afternoon newspapers appear at 3 o’clock.

De Vinck confirmed that Giraud today transmitted his formal reply to de Gaulle refusing to resign and stating he neither accepts the [Page 680] suppression in time of war of the office of French CinC nor honorific post which de Gaulle has offered him. Text of his letter in translation follows in another cable.66

De Vinck expressed considerable concern over consequences of de Gaulle’s action. He believes many of the superior French generals may shortly be relieved by de Gaullists. He points out that a citation for General Juin67 issued some 6 days ago was held up for publication until today in order to make it appear that this was one of the last acts of Giraud as CinC. De Vinck also expressed concern for Giraud’s future and gave me text of a message which he requests be transmitted to President on Giraud’s behalf. (My 1192, April 9.)68 While he points out that Giraud may be relieved of duties and ordered to inactive duty (congé actif) he does not exclude possibility that he may be forbidden to leave country or in fact he may be placed under arrest. (I was informed by Rooker of British Mission that yesterday evening when he called Giraud’s staff was burning some of his papers.) In latter case he believes blood may flow although he reiterated that Giraud at all costs wishes to avoid any division among French people which might hurt war effort or future of France.

Sent to the Department as 1191, repeated to London as 142.

  1. Telegram 1193, April 9, midnight, not printed.
  2. Alphonse Juin, member of the Permanent Military Commission and Commander of French Expeditionary Forces fighting in Italy.
  3. Not printed.